Pimp My Plate #35 – Fika Swedish Kitchen, Manly, NSW

Breakfast, brunch, or lunch reviews where the main plate is $20 or less

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Swedish meatballs would be the obvious choice wouldn’t it?

FIKA serves breakfast and lunch, but when I arrived at 12 noon with a sizeable appetite it wasn’t me who ordered the meatballs, but the Swedish family at the next table. 

Fika is a Swedish word that translates as ‘taking a break for coffee and a bite to eat’ but FIKA SWEDISH KITCHEN offers more, both in food quality and ambience.

With the temperature pushing above 37° celcius I was very thirsty, so the first menu items to catch my eye were the drink illustrations for an ODD GLEN, a CORNELIUS, and a PAPPA JOJJE – $10 each.

I chose the CORNELIUS: gin, elderflower, and cucumber, and I was rewarded. Almost as cool and hydrating as eating a whole cucumber while standing under a cool shower, but of course it tasted far superior and I could sit down.

Other beverages include bottles of Julmust ($10). Julmust is a Swedish soft drink that’s described as tasting somewhere between a root beer and a coke.

Julmust was invented by Swede Harry Roberts as a non-alcoholic alternative to drinking beer around Christmas, which is when it’s most commonly available in stores. Its name translates to Christmas (Jul) and Juice (must) which is what you call the not yet fermented juice from fruit meant for wine or cider production.

What’s the difference between Swedish meatballs and Italian meatballs? Swedish meatballs are served with a creamy gravy sauce, graybee daybee, made from cream or sour cream. It does depend on who you ask, as to whether the inclusion of allspice in the meat mixture is essential or not.

Although both styles of meatballs can include a beef and pork mixture, Italian meatballs often contain parmesan cheese. The sauce is tomato-based, and flavoured with black pepper and garlic.

FIKA serves theirs in a creamy sauce with lingonberry jam (also known as mountain cranberries) with pickled cucumbers and potato mash. The Swedish speaking trio sitting at the next table ordered them and they seemed happy.

I quickly noticed that about a quarter of the cafe patrons were either speaking Swedish, or speaking English with Swedish accents. As did most of the staff.

I chose the pan-fried Rainbow Trout ($18) served w crunchy cauliflower florets, beetroot, cauliflower puree, green peas and dusted w fennel pollen and dill.

It would be accurate to say I’ve never heard of fennel pollen – bee pollen yes – is it a thing? It’s all about sex, because by definition, pollen are the male sex cells in plants. In flowering plants, pollen is produced in thin filaments in the flower called stamens which is then blown through the air. So there you have it.

Served in a bowl, my rainbow trout was cooked beautifully, with a thin and crispy skin, and the fish tender and moist. I could cut through both with my butter knife. Fresh, clean, flavours that were especially hydrating on such a hot day.

Just reading the word trifle makes my mouth water, so even though my meal of trout was satisfying and sufficient, I had to order the one on the menu. Whether you call it research, or call it piggish, is your call.

My Ragnar’s Trife ($9) consisted of sweet layers of custard, raspberry and rhubarb compote, and birch water and elderflower jelly, with crumbled gingerbread.

Wickedly sweet, crunchy, and delicious. I’ve tried birch water before – it comes from the birch tree and it’s a very naturally refreshing drink. As a jelly it’s even more delicious.

My flat white coffee had good body and flavour. I could have happily sat there all day, attempting to learn Swedish from the children’s books on offer, and sipping another CORNELIUS or three. FIKA seats approximately 25+ people, and there was now a queue of people waiting so I left and took a walk along Manly beachfront instead.

I’d like to go back to FIKA for breakfast and try their ÅLANDSPANNKAKA – semolina pancake, traditional recipe from our friends on the Åland islands served w cream and homemade jam.

A Swedish breakfast, then hit the beach – fantastisk!

RATED: My plate was pimped!  FOOD: 4.5/5   Fresh, friendly, and attention to detail
VALUE: 5/5   VENUE ATMOS: Swedish fellow diners adds äkthet (authenticity)
VIBE:  Friendly, shelves stock Swedish produce
FIKA SWEDISH KITCHEN – Shop 5B, Market Lane, Manly, NSW
Open everyday 7am-5pm (Lunch from 12 noon-4pm)

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